GP PRACTICE CLOSURES CAMPAIGN PRESENTS 20,000 SIGNATURES TO DOWNING STREET
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Pulse Today 6 August 2014 | By Sofia Lind
GPs, MPs and patients have handed over 20,000 signatures to Prime Minister David Cameron today, warning that removal of funding will lead to patients living with the ‘uncertainty of whether they are going to have a GP to go to’.
At a ‘Save Our Surgeries’ rally in front of 10 Downing Street, Labour MPs accompanying NHS campaigners – led by GPs from the at-risk Jubilee Street Practice in east London – demanded that NHS England reversed the ‘dreadful decision’ to withdraw the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) and withhold the names of the 98 GP practices most at risk as a result.
Pulse also attended the rally at 10 Downing Street today to highlight our Stop Practice Closures campaign that is calling for the Government to step in an ensure that no practice at risk of closing as a result of funding swings such as the MPIG withdrawal and the review of PMS contracts, via an online petition to the Government.
This followed an investigation that has found that over 100 practices are already teetering on the brink of collapse.
Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow Rushanara Ali, who gave support to the Pulse campaign, told protestors: ‘Nearly 100 GP surgeries face closures because the Government has changed the funding formula and it is taking money away from deprived areas, such as in east London where 22 GP surgeries face closure.’
‘This is completely unacceptable.’
She added that the Government must disclose the names of the GP practices most at risk as a result of the withdrawal of MPIG.
As previously reported by Pulse, NHS England has not even informed the GPC of their identity, as the Government is also withholding a secret list of potential PMS practice losses and has refused a Freedom of Information request from Pulse to release the names.
Ms Ali said: ‘To this day they have failed to announce those GP surgeries up and down the country, which means patients live with uncertainty of whether they are going to have a GP to go to, never mind having an appointment. ‘
Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick said: ‘My team and I will continue to work with Rushanara and [other Labour MPs] to support the GP surgeries, Sam Everington and his CCG, everybody who wants to make sure that the message to the Government is loud and clear. The NHS is not for sale and our GP practices are not for closing, and we will take this fight all the way.’
The Jubilee Street Practice campaign is calling for 22 at-risk practices operating in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney to be offered a long-term funding solution to be able to stay open and continue to deliver a high-quality service to their patients, many of which live in the most deprived conditions in England.
In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, which was handed in with the petition, 11 Labour MPs jointly warned that the reduced funding to practices reliant on the MPIG will have ‘serious implications for thousands of people’, not just in London but across the country.
The letter to Mr Cameron said: ‘Reduced funding resulting in the potential closure of GP surgeries not only in Tower Hamlets but nationwide will undoubtedly have serious implications for thousands of people who expect to be able to visit their local GP services they know and trust. The Government’s reforms will be damaging to people’s healthcare and will particularly harm some of the poorest communities in the country.’
‘In Tower Hamlets alone there are high levels of poverty and health inequalities with over 40% of children living in poverty and life expectancies below the national average, these changes will be devastating.’
Also speaking at the rally, GPC deputy Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We used to get 11%, just 11% of the NHS cake in terms of funding, now we receive 7.5%. That means we only have three-quarters of the funding that we used to have to be able to deliver the services to our growing needs for patients.’
RCGP honourary secretary Nigel Mathers, also speaking, said: ‘How can we have reached a situation where things have become so bad that GP practices, which are the lifeblood of local communities, that GP practices are at the threat of closure. Some of which is going to take place within months and where patients are at real risk of having no family doctor to turn to when they are ill.’
Dr Naomi Beer, a GP partner at the Jubilee Street Practice, said: ‘Our patients often tell us how much they appreciate the high quality, accessible service that Jubilee Street provides. We’ve already taken pay cuts to try to keep going, but we can’t absorb such a huge loss. It breaks my heart to think that our patients, some of them among the poorest in the country, are at very real risk of losing their GP practice. We are asking the Government to take action to ensure all practices receive a fair allocation of funds.’